The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Nutritious playing day

An intensive day 'workshopping' that leaves you burning to practice on everyone you encounter, in a playful way, for the rest of the day has to be a hit.

Friday 4th March. I left the London Art House post ‘Workshop Workshop’ on a high. Waiting for the Uber Cab to the airport, from where I’d fly home to Madrid, I suddenly felt the need to invigorate the environment, starting with the passersby, then the cab driver, and finally the passengers. How come? I’ll tell you.

A day with Kate McEnery-Evans, Iain Carruthers and co. left me full of ‘workshopping’ energy, and ready to, well, workshop. And in a fun way, like hey, do you want to play? And how about playing to get to the core? And even more, how about playing to achieve useful goals and learn more along the way?

It was a day that helped make that happen: encouraging involvement, and making people from different backgrounds feel comfortable about mixing, about opening their hearts and minds.

One surprising and innovative exercise was the idea of bringing concepts/strategies/proposals from brands in different categories to break the rules of the one we’re working with. As with other tools used that day, those which change the way we live a brand/product/service are enriching (recognising clichés, looking at the worst practice and turn it on its head).

Drawing in the workshops to break the intellectual concentration was a great moment in a packed day, and a useful tool for the future, too. Ideas, apart from techniques, I will cherish include:

1. The importance of laughter, always a personal instinctive trick, is a powerful tool in many circumstances.

2. The importance of relaxing breaks, and an understanding that timings will never be realistic (but should still be tied as closely to the program as possible).

3. The importance of splitting responsibilities among facilitators: one person can’t simultaneously be in charge of getting the logistics in order and taking care of the quality of processes and insights search.

The fresh and fun ideas that I emerged with are now useful tools in my pocket to engage workshop participants from all areas. It was a nutritious playing day!


Paloma Diaz Zeeuwen
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